7 Warning Signs your Lymphatic System is Clogged – Here’s How to Drain It

The lymphatic system might be the body’s most forgotten and under-studied system. People usually hear about it only in relation to cancer. When everything seems to be going well, the lymphatic system just gets ignored, and its function is not really considered. If you knew that the lymphatic system may be more important than the blood supply system, would that change the way you look after it? Read on to find out about the lymph’s significance and how to keep it flowing to preserve your health.

The lymphatic system works like a drain. It detoxifies the body, removes the waste and makes sure the offensive substances, such as bacteria, allergens, heavy metals, molds, fungi, chemicals, trans fats – leave the body in due time. It supports every other system in the body and is crucial for your immunity. If your lymph gets sluggish, this will compromise your immune response. You really don’t want your lymph system becoming clogged – this is when different conditions start to develop, ranging from high cholesterol to cancers.

What are the signs of lymphatic congestion?

  • Swelling of the small joints (you can notice your rings becoming tighter)
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Morning soreness and stiffness
  • Bloating
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Mental fogginess
  • Cold hands and feet

These are just some of the symptoms, and in some systems of medicine, such as Ayurvedic medicine, almost every condition (or symptom) can be linked back to lymph. That is why it’s so important to keep it healthy and to avoid things that might cause it to clog.

Main causes of lymphatic congestion to look out for

According to Dr. John Douillard, an Ayurvedic physician, writer, professor and chiropractor, these are the three culprits:

  • Stress – stress causes a chemical turmoil in the body and is thought to be behind 80% of all chronic conditions, including lymph congestion. Stress comes in many forms: physical, emotional, mental, environmental.
  • Chronic digestive imbalances – the majority of the lymph is found around the gut – it is known as the GALT or gut-associated lymphoid tissues. If the intestinal villi (threadlike projections that cover the surface of the small intestine) aren’t in top shape, this affects the flow of the lymph and prevents it from doing its function of cleansing and aiding immunity.
  • Iodine deficiency – iodine plays a role in protecting us from environmental toxins. If not supplied in sufficient amounts, it can cause a lymph blockage.

A seasonal lymphatic system cleanse

For the reasons described above, it is a very good idea to regularly cleanse and detox your lymphatic system. Seasonal cleanses are usually performed one to three times a year during the change of seasons. The best times are in spring, fall and in January (after the holiday period).

You should, however, follow a life regimen that supports the health of your lymphatic tissue throughout the year. Recommendations are similar to that you often hear in relation to a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle.

3-day lymphatic cleanse

This seasonal cleanse was described by Greg Ashby, an integrative health coach and functional nutritional consultant.

Day 1:

Get the following vegetables, preferably organic:

  • zucchini
  • celery
  • green onions (scallions)
  • parsley
  • mustard greens
  • turnip greens
  • cabbage
  • green peppers
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • red and/or gold beets

These vegetables aid the cleansing process. They contain vitamins, mineral and antioxidants that limit the damage done by free radicals.

  • Wash the vegetables. Don’t cut or scrape them, use them whole.
  • Cook the vegetables in a large pot with a couple of gallons of filtered water on low heat for 2 hours. Keep a lid on to preserve the vitamins and minerals.
  • Remove from heat and wait for the liquid to cool down.
  • Drain the liquid from the vegetables. The vegetable broth is what you’ll be using for your cleanse. Save the vegetables for day 3 of the cleanse.

On day 1, drink three 8 oz glasses of the vegetable broth twice a day – before lunch and dinner.

Day 2:

Drink three 8 oz glasses of the vegetable broth before your breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 3:

Drink three 8 oz glasses of the vegetable broth before your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat the saved vegetables with your meals as well.

While you do the cleanse:

  • Avoid refined and processed foods and drinks. Don’t eat any breads, cookies, cereal, pasta, and foods with added sugar.
  • Avoid food allergens, including diary, wheat, corn, soy, preservatives and additives.
  • Avoid trans fatty acids, which are found in margarine, fried foods and fast food.
  • Limit your consumption of coffee, alcohol, tobacco and sodas.
  • Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and watercress – you can steam them lightly.
  • Use healthy oils – cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil are the best choices.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of room temperature pure water daily.
  • Exercise, relax and sleep well.

The above recommendations also apply to your usual everyday diet and life-style.

More tips for a healthy lymphatic system:

  • Drink a glass of warm water with lime or lemon first thing in the morning.
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins and oils.
  • Red-staining foods are particularly good for moving the lymph. Eat barriers, cherries, pomegranate, beets and cranberries.  Beets are especially useful as they scrub the villi in your gut and thin the bile, which is also responsible for the immune response in the gut.
  • Explore any possible food allergies and remove the allergen.
  • Do regular detoxes and consider this colon cleanse too. Detox program is not about fasting or starvation but contains several aspects.
  • If you can, visit a trained and certified lymph drainage massage therapist.
  • Use saunas or make detox baths.
  • Find an effective way to deal with stress and emotional issues. Meditation is one of the options for de-stressing yourself.

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